Airbus CEO says all planemakers to suffer from 'lose-lose' trade war

LONDON (Reuters) – Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury warned on Thursday any further escalation of trade tensions would damage aerospace firms globally, including the European planemaker’s U.S. rival Boeing.

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured outside the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters next to a red traffic light in Geneva, Switzerland, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

The United States and the EU have each threatened to impose billions of dollars of tit-for-tat tariffs on planes, tractors and food in the nearly 15-year trans-Atlantic dispute at the World Trade Organization over subsidies to Airbus and Boeing.

“The trade tensions that we see, we believe they are lose-lose tensions,” Faury told reporters on a visit to London.

Boeing on Wednesday urged the U.S. government, which has the first crack at imposing any tariffs since its WTO process is running several months ahead of the EU’s, to restrict reprisals to European aircraft to avoid harming American manufacturers.

But Faury said it would be impossible to isolate the fallout from the deteriorating international trade climate, which has also led to a tariff war between the United States and China.

“These tensions, and the trade situation, are not supportive to any of the players in aerospace,” he said.

“We don’t think we’ll be losing more than the other guys in that situation, but we think it should be resolved in one way or another that enables global businesses like aviation to continue to grow,” Faury said.

The new Airbus CEO, who stepped up from its planemaking division a month ago, repeated warnings over the impact of Britain’s European Union exit, while using softer language than his predecessor Tom Enders who threatened to quit the UK.

Airbus, which makes wings in Britain and employs 14,000 people across the country, is using the delay in Brexit to “prepare for all scenarios,” Faury said, adding that a no-deal Brexit remained on the table, even if less likely.

“Things have basically not changed, and therefore they are worsening. This long-lasting lack of clarity is … a distraction,” he said.

“The UK is really a place where we are part of the ecosystem. Our plants and our sites in the UK are very competitive. We would like this to continue, whatever happens.”

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Tim Hepher/Sudip Kar-Gupta/Alexander Smith

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